#118 Casablanca in St. Augustine
The Old Spanish City in Florida
We were pretty excited about staying overnight in a city that was established in 1565.
Our inn was pretty new compared to that. It was built as a home, in 1914.
Finding Our Way In
There was a lively crowd drinking on the sidewalk patio and veranda when we arrived. It wasn't too obvious that this was a hotel.
Don and I made our way past a few servers, carrying martinis and then found the front door. Once inside, a staircase greeted us. It felt like we'd just intruded into someone's home. We cut to the left and found ourselves in a living room... sort of.
Check-In at the Window
This must have been a lovely house back in the day. However, I'm pretty sure the original owners wouldn't have had a framed photo of Marilyn Monroe above the fireplace.
We headed towards the glowing window, where we checked in and got our key to room 5. I was excited to be in the Main House, since the inn has expanded and spread to some other buildings.
Tini Martini Bar
We peeked into the Martini Bar, because our night included a 15-dollar voucher for the bar... which gets you about 1 drink.
The cozy bar was pretty empty, because everyone wanted to sit outside. If we'd stayed in, we could have viewed the nude woman or the colorful dancing couple.
We chose instead to sit outside.
The veranda was the perfect spot to sip our martinis, with a view of the bay.
And as evening progressed, we got to gaze over the flaming torches and keep an eye on the boats and the draw bridge.
As the sun lowered, the clouds changed to pink and the beautiful homes across the water began to glow. Occasionally, we got to watch a carriage load up with passengers. I wish we'd had time for a carriage tour of the ancient city, still lit with Christmas lights.
About Those Martinis
Don and I each ordered one martini that came in its own shaker. That's not unusual. There wasn't any unusually fancy, 2-handed shaking by our server, either.
What was unusual was that instead of metal lids, the shakers came with rubbery plastic caps, like you'd see on the bottom of your grandpa's cane. Now, I'm sure those things get sanitized well, but the dingy color kind of creeped me out. Glad they took those off the table.
Sitting on the veranda allowed us to watch the bay, street and sidewalk. It was a busy 3-day weekend, so there was lots to watch.
Most intriguing of all, was the couple, with three Maltese pups seated below us. I finally got so curious about this traveling family, that I just had to go down and chat. They turned out to be very lovely people from Sarasota and these were rescue dogs, not show dogs. All 5 were kind enough to pose.
What About the Room?
I'm spending a lot of time talking about the porch and view, but we did have a room. It was in the back part of the building.
You had to step out the back door to get to our little porch. Our door had a Christmas wreath a plaque with the name, Gonzalez Sanchez. I wonder if Mr. Sanchez was a very small man?
Our Teenie Tiny Room
Cozy! That's how I will describe our room. I already had decided I liked the name of the Tini Martini Bar. I didn't realize we were going to be given the teeniest of rooms as well!
The bed was teeny, but it was soft and comfy and there was a cleverly built set of teeny lamp holders, since there was no room for bedside tables.
We really didn't mind our small room.
We had chosen the most economical room we could find and we weren't going to spend much time in it anyway.
Clean and Cozy
There was a decent bathroom and shower and a nice sitting area, so not complaints.
Well, maybe one teeny complaint. Even though I slept well, I suddenly woke around 1:30 am, to the sound of rumbling and breaking glass. Evidently, when the Tini Martini Lounge closes, someone has the job of making a few trips to the dumpster. Those rolling trash cans aren't so bad, but the dumping of bottles is quite a jolt in the night!
Lots of Christmas Going On
I have to go back once again to my focus on the front. The front of Casablanca was just plain festive.
The decorations might have seemed oddly over the top, if the entire city of St. Augustine wasn't lit with twinkly lights in January. I loved it.
So Many Lights
And look at the tree in the center of the two balconies?
I wonder if it would be strange to return to this place in another season. Would the inn look a little sad or ill? Luckily it all seemed fun and festive.
It was back to the veranda one more time in the morning, to use our 25-dollar brunch voucher that came with our stay. We had coffee instead of martinis and our table was lit with sunshine instead of Christmas lights.
I studied the clipboard with brunch options and chose a delicious Veggie-Benedict with avocado and sunflower seeds. The toasty potatoes were perfectly seasoned. Service was a bit slow, but the food was worth waiting for.
We stayed in a lovely old house, right in the midst of a beautiful historic city. I wish the young staff had been able to fill me in on the history of the old house.
It would have been fun to have learned some old house/hotel secrets, but I guess that wasn't the notable part of our stay. So what's notable? I might remember the teeny room, but mostly I'll recall the festive front with porches and torches and the incredible view!
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My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!